The Guided Tour
Why Go: When the British Empire rolled onto the subcontinent in 1817, the maharajas of Rajasthan were so fierce that the crown decided to broker a deal: They could rule independently, so long as Her Majesty's envoys could play among the luxurious palaces and private nature reserves that dot Rajasthan's desert landscape. Today visitors can take the same liberties on a trip designed by Mandip Singh Soin, the founder of Ibex Expeditions, who led the first Indian camel expedition across the Thar Desert. In addition to exploring ancient palaces by jeep, on foot, and on camelback, the itinerary stops at the wall of Kumbalgarh, which snakes over 13 mountaintops and through a panther reserve. Then the trip follows Rabari nomads on their annual pilgrimage to the Naguar Fair. Camel racing, anyone?
Need to Know: Pack sterile eyewash. When desert winds kick up, you'll want a quick way to flush out your eyes. Each night you'll rinse off the dust and grime at historic hotels such as the 250-year-old Lake Palace, once owned by the royal family of Udaipur.
Outfitter: Ibex Expeditions www.ibexexpeditions.com
Photograph by Anthony Plummer/Loney Planet Images
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